Today marks 2 years since I arrived on UK soil, moving overseas is something so many people do on a day today basis, its made to look so easy isn’t it? Today I thought I’d share my experience, so this post is for anyone who is thinking of moving abroad, this is the good, the bad and the ugly.
At 25, I had been overseas a couple of times and each time I did my love for travel increased and I would arrive back home in Johannesburg and couldn’t wait to plan the next trip. The downside was that with our depreciating rand it meant that a glass of wine abroad was equivalent to an entire night out on rands so saving for a trip was a long and demotivating process. I felt lost back home and when a friend said to me why don’t I go work abroad, the seed was planted and 3 months later I had resigned, packed up a house and was on a plane to London embarking on my new adventure.
I arrived in London and was welcomed by an incredible family friend who I had last met when I was 3 years old. I knew very few people in London but was lucky enough to be arriving to a job with the same company I had worked for in SA. I moved into a flat with another family friend who I remembered only through childhood photo’s and videos. One of my best friends here today, was someone I had met once before and decided to message when I arrived to see if she’d be keen to go for a drink with someone she didn’t recall meeting. The first night I met her, I had been in tears after trying to figure out London transport and her and her sister were kind enough to let me sleep on their couch.
The first few months were hard, much harder then I ever let on to friends and family back home. As incredible as the public transport in London is, I missed my car, every journey took much longer then I had ever imagined and it made me long for Joburg traffic with my aircon & music booming. I missed my family and friends and space. I was now living in an apartment with 4 other people sharing 1 bathroom. The flat wasn’t much bigger than my first flat in SA that I lived in by myself.
7 months in I was unhappy and I knew one of the biggest contributors to it was my job, I was commuting 2 hours one way which was soul destorying and I didn’t see myself climbing back up the ladder after starting essentially from the beginning again when I moved. I had a good idea of where I wanted to go and approached a company I wanted to work for and 1 interview later I was hired. I made the change and every day since has been better.
With a new job, it meant that I could afford to travel even more and my goal was to travel on a monthly basis. London is an expensive city to live in and sometimes a weekend away somewhere in Europe cost less than a weekend of sightseeing and partying in London. For every city I ticked off my list, I added 3 more. The travel bug is a serious addiction and with each new adventure and every new person I meet I grow and change and gain more perspective then I ever could have sitting at home.
In the last 2 years, I have been to 24 new countries and 47 new cities and I could have never imagined how addictive it is. Travelling has always been a dream of mine and I never would have thought I would have been able to do this much in the last 2 years.
The truth is, change is hard and moving thousands of miles away from everything you have ever known is a big decision and a massive risk. However the good far outweighs the bad and the ugly. You realise how important the kindness of strangers is and how much we all still have to learn on a day to day basis, we just need to be open and ready. I want a balanced life, my career is just as important to me as travel, as time with friends and family and living in London has given that to me.
This is for every single person who may be too scared to make the change, whatever that change may be. Life is short and as scary as making a life change is, it isn’t as scary as a life filled with regret.